“Prep the jet to go.” Olivia snapped the order into the phone, feeling cold to the core.
“Ma’am?” The pilot’s line crackled as Olivia drove round a corner, knuckles white around the steering wheel. “Where to ma’am?”
“My island,” said Olivia. “Prep for guests, too. I don’t know how many.”
There was a pause as her pilot registered this. “Ma’am.”
Olivia disconnected with a swipe of her thumb. The fuck was she going to let Dante make her do his dirty work. She couldn’t fight him, but she could obstruct him, she could at least save whoever he was sending her to kill, send them out of his reach.
Gravel sprayed as she stopped the car and stepped out. Down on the beach, three figures stood by a roaring bonfire, two men one woman, kindred all, their auras steeped in golden light.
Olivia walked down towards them, gravel crunching under her shoes as Shen’s van pulled up behind her car.
The girl stepped forward, and Olivia saw her aura tremble over her white sundress, shimmering with barely suppressed psychosis. “You’re here,” she nodded, her smile tight-lipped. “Good.”
Olivia met her eyes a moment. “I’m here to save you. I have a plane, a safe haven away from the city-”
The girl shook her head. “That doesn’t matter,” she said, gesturing to the others. They were naked save for shorts, their bronzed bodies reflecting the firelight. “You can fly these two as far away as you like and they will still be fated to die in five days. Here, their deaths buy five more days for the Camarilla in Grimouth. Anywhere else and their deaths accomplish nothing.”
An oracle. Dante had sent her to another oracle. Olivia’s throat felt tight.“And they’re ok with this?”
The oracle nodded. “They’ve made their choice. They die tonight.” She sighed, and turned to Shen as he approached. “You can’t help.”
“I can take away any pain they might feel,” he said.
The oracle’s face was expressionless. “It won’t help them.”
Shen looked her up and down before stepping past her and to the two men by the fire. “I have to try,” he said. “Here, lay down.” Shen worked quickly, their skin rippling under his hands as he severed their nerves, and Olivia found her hand going to her own fleshcrafted face. She’d had no idea of his true capabilities, when she’d let him do that. She doubted she’d trust him enough to do it again. The oracle waited, watching Shen as he finished his work.
Shen took a cloth from his pocket and wiped his hands. “Any visions for me?”
The girl shrugged. “If you return to the burning house, your father of light and your father of darkness will both die.”
Shen fell quiet, looking troubled.
“What about the city in the reflection?” asked Olivia.
“If you can still see the city, then you see less than I do. I can see nothing. Just know that the most direct route is not the correct one.” The girl looked abruptly to her left, and Olivia heard the gravel crunch. “Perhaps you’d be so kind as to tell the bringer of their death to reveal himself now.”
“Jed?” Olivia ventured, and the gargoyle stepped forwards into the firelight, his grey skin mottled like the stones beneath his feet. The oracle looked him up and down.
“I’m meant to kill them?” Jed looked doubtful, his hand on the hilt of his sword.
The oracle shook her head. “No. If you kill them, it will be in vain. You simply call their death here.”
The gargoyle took his hand from his sword, looking worried. “Alistair?”
The girl pitched forwards onto Shen, twitching, eyes blank. Her aura swirled stormy and violent, and a trickle of blood dribbled from her still-moving lips.
“Shen?” Olivia looked to the doctor.
“She’s okay.” Gently, Shen lowered the girl down onto the grown, frowning as he examined her. “No pulse, but that’s pretty much to be expected.”
Olivia nodded. “Get her back to Goodwin with the others. I’ll wait for the justicar with Jed.”
Alistair seemed surprised to see Olivia waiting with Jed at the beach.
The Setites, he seemed less surprised about.
The justicar turned to Olivia, his voice stern. “You should leave.”
The little malk looked sad, but nodded, and went to the Settites, kneeling beside them. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m sorry I couldn’t save you.”
With that, she was gone, and Jed heard her car start and pull away.
“You too, Jedivan,” said the justicar. “You don’t need to witness this.”
Jed felt a chill. He had heard stories about the justicar’s methods, of course, but he had yet to witness them. “I should stay.”
“As you wish,” Alistair grunted, and began his interrogation.